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Chinese Schools in Peninsular Malaysia

The Struggle for Survival

Lee Ting Hui

Publication Year: 2011

The history of modern Chinese schools in Peninsular Malaysia is a story of conflicts between Chinese domiciled there and different governments that happened or happen to rule the land. Before the days of the Pacific War, the British found the Chinese schools troublesome because of their pro-China political activities. They established measures to control them. When the Japanese ruled the Malay Peninsula, they closed down all the Chinese schools. After the Pacific War, for a decade, the British sought to convert the Chinese schools into English schools. The Chinese schools decoupled themselves from China and survived. A Malay-dominated government of independent Peninsular Malaysia allowed Chinese primary schools to continue, but finally changed many Chinese secondary schools into National Type Secondary Schools using Malay as the main medium of instruction. Those that remained independent, along with Chinese colleges, continued without government assistance. The Chinese community today continues to safeguard its educational institutions to ensure they survive.

Published by: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

It was Dr Leon Comber of the Monash Asia Institute, Monash University, Australia, who suggested to Ambassador Kesavapany, Director of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, that I do this study on Chinese schools in Malaysia. I am very thankful to Dr Comber for having made the suggestion and to Ambassador Kesavapany for having accepted the book proposal. ...


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pp. ix-x

Notes on Coverage and Names

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xv

This book attempts to give an account of how Chinese schools in Peninsular Malaysia struggled to survive and develop between 1786 and 2003, a period spanning more than two hundred years. The overriding consideration is to see how the various governments of the country over these years posed challenges to them and how they responded to these challenges. ...

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1. The Years before the Pacific War

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pp. 1-42

To understand why there were and still are Chinese schools in the Malay Peninsula, we need to know how the land became a British dependency between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries for there were few Chinese living there before the British arrived and even fewer Chinese schools worth noting. ...

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2. From the Japanese Occupation to Self-Government

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pp. 43-82

The Japanese took over the Malay Peninsula from the British between the end of 1941 and the beginning of 1942. Thereafter, they ruled the land until 1945 when they lost the Pacific War and had to return it to the British. While there, as to be expected, they tried to promote education through their own language at the expense of all other languages. ...

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3. Towards the "Ulitmate Objective" of One-Medium Education

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pp. 83-117

The self-government granted by the British to the Alliance Party in 1955 was returning partial power to the local people of the country. This was followed two years later by the British relinquishing power altogether and Malaya becoming independent. ...

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4. One-Miedium Education under Rukun Negara and the New Economic Policy

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pp. 118-154

After the general election and the racial riots of 1969, with Abdul Razak replacing Tunku Abdul Rahman as the leader of the nation, things took a radical turn in the country as observed. The Malays found Tunku Abdul Rahman to be too compromising with the Chinese, and his successor adopted a more pro-Malay attitude than him. ...

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5. The 1980s: A Decade of Continuing Challenges for the Chinese Schools

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pp. 155-186

The 1980s saw the rule of two men, Hussein Onn and Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The former vacated his office as prime minister of the country on 16 July 1981 due to poor health and was succeeded by the latter.1 Under the rule of these two men, Chinese-medium schools in the country had to face continuing challenges. ...

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6. Vision 2020 and the Chinese Schools

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pp. 187-217

The 1990s into the year 2003 saw the continued rule of Mahathir Mohamad as the prime minister of the country. Mahathir introduced a grand vision for the development of the country called Vision 2020. While the new regime brought blessings to the Chinese schools in certain ways, it also created difficulties for them in other respects. ...

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7. Conclusion: Challenges and Responses

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pp. 218-248

From the first day, when the first old-style school was founded in Penang in 1819, until 2007, Chinese schools in Malaysia have undergone a development of more than 180 years. According to statistics, in 2007, there were 1,289 Chinese primary schools with 643,679 pupils in the country;1 ...


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pp. 249-264


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pp. 265-270


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pp. 271-282

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About the Author

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p. 283

Lee Ting Hui was born and raised in Malaysia. He started working life as a teacher in a Chinese primary school in a small town there. Later he switched to teach in one of the largest Chinese secondary schools, the Yoke Choy High School in Ipoh. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9789814279222
Print-ISBN-13: 9789814279215

Page Count: 284
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 741492763
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Chinese Schools in Peninsular Malaysia

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Schools, Chinese -- Malaysia -- History.
  • Schools, Chinese -- Government policy -- Malaysia.
  • Chinese -- Education -- Malaysia -- History.
  • Education and state -- Malaysia -- History.
  • Education -- Malaysia -- History.
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